Archive for December, 2008

Two More Delicious Meals at Evening Star!

Posted in Alexandria virginia, Del Ray, Restaurants on December 22nd, 2008 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

On Friday night, David and I were looking for a quiet date night and of course we ended up at one of our favorite spots: Evening Star in Del Ray. As I’ve mentioned before, the food at Evening Star is always flavorful and the wines are well priced and they have a large selection of wines by the glass. David and I had not been to Evening Star in awhile so it was nice to be back.

We were thrilled to see Dennis, our favorite waiter, and he informed us that the chef now tries to make every dish on the menu as celiac friendly as possible. Great news! We ate the Mixed Grill as an appetizer which includes a grilled scallop and bacon with corn and an avocado puree. Wow! Sadly, I had never actually eaten a scallop before and it was so good! For dinner I chose the ‘Forever Braised Short Ribs’ with butternut squash risotto. Delicious! The meat was so tender and a perfect combination with the jus, risotto and meat. Also, for a celiac to simply be able to order an actual entrée off of the menu and not have to get it altered at all is so unusual and a welcome change.

I enjoyed my meal so much that I decided to bring my sister-in-law, Blair, to Evening Star on Sunday night while our husbands attended the Redskins game. Blair ordered the highly recommended short ribs and even though I wanted the short ribs again I decided to branch out and try something new. It was between the salmon and the duck for me, but I went with the pan roasted duck breast and I’m glad I did. It was cooked perfectly and full of flavor. The only modification I had to make to the entrée was to substitute the squash risotto for the barley risotto that comes with the duck. Of course I didn’t mind this modification at all because squash risotto is one of my favorite dishes.

Many thanks to Evening Star for considering all of the celiacs out there when planning menus! It is so nice to look at the menu and know there are multiple options for me and that the chef and waiters understand my needs. David and I look forward to many more date nights and evenings with friends at Evening Star. (Non-celiacs love Evening Star too!)

Evening Star Cafe
2000 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA

Evening Star Cafe on Urbanspoon

Drinks at Cheesetique

Posted in Alexandria virginia, Del Ray, Restaurants on December 20th, 2008 by Betsy – 1 Comment


Looking for a cozy spot to get a glass of wine after work? You don’t even have to cross the river to find the perfect place! Last night I went out for drinks at Cheesetique in Del Ray. Cheesetique is a wine and cheese shop as well as a wine bar. It used to just be a cheese shop but they recently moved down the street to a larger location. When you enter the building, walk to the back and seat yourself at the bar or tables. The atmosphere is laid back, warm and not too loud. You also don’t feel rushed by the wait staff to finish, which I always appreciate.

While their wines are a bit pricey, I think it’s worth the cost because you know you’re getting a good glass of wine. On this evening I tried two of their reds that were smooth and perfect for a cold December night: the Cotes du Rhone and Rioja (this one was my personal favorite and very reasonably priced at $8).

We also ordered three cheeses from their cheese menu that were flavorful and each one was distinctly unique. The menu includes nice descriptions of the cheeses and wines to help you decide what you want and what flavors to expect. The cheese plate, with three cheeses, was $15 and plenty for four people. On a celiac friendly note, Cheesetique serves the bread and crackers on a separate platter so you don’t have to worry about crumbs contaminating the cheese. Cheesetique even sells gluten free crackers in their store so I’m sure you could purchase some to have with your cheese platter.

Cheesetique has a lunch and dinner menu, but I have not experimented or enquired about its gluten free potential yet. There are plenty of salads on the menu so that’s a good sign. Just another reason to go back! Cheesetique’s wine bar includes a large bar and a handful of tables, but they do not take reservations. We had no problem getting a table, but it was definitely crowded when we left. This is a great spot if you’re looking to get your family out of the house over the holidays but you’re not necessarily looking to spend a lot of money on a huge meal.

Cheesetique Specialty Cheese Shop
2411 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301
703.706.5300

Gluten Free Gift Ideas

Posted in Uncategorized on December 19th, 2008 by Betsy – 1 Comment


Do you have a friend with celiacs that you’re shopping for this holiday season? As I’m writing this posting, students of mine are bringing me a handful of Christmas gifts, some of which I won’t be able to eat, including biscotti and cookies. (It’s the thought that counts, right?) On that note, a ‘Gluten Free in DC’ reader asked me about gluten free Christmas gift ideas and places to purchase gluten free foods. Of course anything that’s non-edible is fine, but during the holidays we all like to give and receive edible goodies!

I don’t know of a place that does specifically gluten free baskets (that’s a great business idea!), but I would recommend going to Whole Foods. There are so many options at Whole Foods that you could put into a basket or gift bag. A nice idea would be cheese and gluten free crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers is a personal favorite.) Any cheeses, except veiny cheeses (like blue cheese) are gluten free. Wine is gluten free so that can be a good and easy gift. Nuts and dried fruit could also be a nice addition to the basket. As I’ve mentioned before, Buzz Bakery sells gluten free cupcakes and brownies that are delicious and baked goods are always appreciated by celiacs!

If you’re looking for stocking stuffer ideas, some of my favorite gluten free candies are M&Ms, Hershey’s Kisses, 3 Musketeers and Reece’s Cups.

Christmas is Coming…

Posted in baking on December 10th, 2008 by Betsy – 7 Comments

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As any celiac knows, the holidays can be tricky with the many parties and festivities where gluten filled goodies will be served. Many of my friends are wonderful about putting out gluten free snacks whenever hosting me, but I like to bring something sweet and gluten free to my hosts. This way you’re guaranteed to have something you can eat…just make sure they aren’t put on the same tray as other cookies that do contain gluten.

Throughout the next few weeks I will be blogging about holiday cooking and baking in hopes that I will provide you with culinary ideas you can use at your own parties, share with your friends or even use as gifts. The holidays are a time to give, share and spend time with friends and families. This time of year is a perfect opportunity to show others how good gluten free food can be and remind yourself that you don’t need to miss out on all of the fun simply because of your dietary needs. Happy GF Holidays!

Christmas Monster Cookies:
These cookies are delicious and using Holiday M&Ms can add a festive touch. I also love this recipe because it makes enough cookies for a large group (think gift giving or holiday parties) and they freeze well. I’ll be bringing a batch to my friends’ Whit and Meredith’s holiday party this weekend:
Ingredients:
1/3 cup softened butter
¾ cup brown sugar (tightly packed)
¾ cup sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 t. gluten free vanilla (McCormick now specifies on the back that its vanilla is GF…Hooray!)
2 eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups gluten free oats (Note: Bob’s Red Mill now has certified gluten free oats; you can order them online; they can be difficult to find in stores so when I find them, I buy a lot. I most recently found them at Ukrop’s in Richmond.)
1 cup holiday plain M&Ms
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 and grease cookie sheet.
Using a mixer, combine butter and sugar. Then mix in eggs, vanilla and baking soda. Add peanut butter and mix until blended.

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Mix in oats on slow speed (I usually start with 2 ½ cups and add more, depending on what I want the consistency to be like.) Then add M&Ms and chocolate chips and mix slowly.
(If I have time, I refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes, but it’s not necessary.)

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Using a spoon, place balls of mix onto cookie sheet and bake for 9-12 minutes, depending on how brown you want them and how big you make your cookies. I usually check on them after 9 minutes and see how their looking.
Place on cooling rack and enjoy!

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Food For Thought: pills fix everything!!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 3rd, 2008 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Check out this link about potential pills to help celiacs. Definitely interesting to think about. I think I’m in agreement with Glutenfree Chicago…I don’t mind not having the wheat but it would be nice to take a pill before going to restaurants just in case there’s contamination.

gluten-free chicago: pills fix everything!!

Betsy’s Mashed Potatoes

Posted in side dish on December 3rd, 2008 by Betsy – 3 Comments

My mom and I LOVE mashed potatoes so this is a go to side dish at holiday meals. Simple, flavorful and minimal dishes to wash!
Ingredients:
2 ½-3 lbs. red potatoes washed (not peeled)
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Plenty of salt and pepper
¾ cup 2% milk (warmed)

Directions:
Wash potatoes and put in a pot. Fill with water to cover potatoes. Boil water and let potatoes cook for 25-30 minutes once water boils. Once potatoes are tender to the touch of a fork, drain water. (Don’t poke with fork too much because potatoes will dry out.) Add half of the milk and start to mash with a potato masher. Add rest of milk and start adding salt and pepper and parmesan cheese.

Taste as you add more cheese, salt and pepper. You might choose to use more or less milk and cheese depending on your taste buds and desired consistency of potatoes. (I prefer chunky mashed potatoes but if you want them smoother, add more milk.)

I like this side dish because it’s relatively easy and you don’t even need to break out the Kitchen Aid. It’s perfect when there’s already a lot going on in the kitchen…it minimizes dishes and space. I find that the skin left on adds color and texture to the dish!

Leftover Tip: These reheat well in the microwave, but I suggest adding a little milk before reheating.

Recipe Variation: Use sour cream instead of or in addition to parmesan cheese.

Thanksgiving: A Celebration of Simple and Flavorful Food!

Posted in cooking, meals on December 2nd, 2008 by Betsy – 3 Comments


Gluten Free in DC enjoyed getting away from the city during the Thanksgiving break! The husband (whom I’ll now refer to by his real name, David) and I went to Onancock, Virginia with my parents, grandparents, brother and his wife to celebrate the holiday. In the year that I have been diagnosed with Celiacs, I have become more and more aware of just how much food is a major part of all of our celebrations, traditions and holidays so I am appreciative to all of my family members on both sides of my family for making the holiday season gluten free friendly!

You might be asking yourself, where in the world is Onancock? Well, Onancock is located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, which is the peninsula off of Maryland. Yes, it’s actually Virginia. You can get to it by driving through Annapolis and the Eastern Shore of MD. (See map above for more details.)

So why do I love the Eastern Shore? The Eastern Shore is always a much needed break from life in D.C. My parents have a house on a small creek that feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. In the summer there’s lots of boating and cocktail hours on the dock, but I think the winter is my favorite time to be on the Shore. There’s no internet, no major cities within an hour’s drive and most importantly, no schedule. The typical day consists of reading, napping, watching college sports on TV, and cooking yummy food. Not only do I love cooking on the Shore, but I also look forward to planning the menus. It’s so nice to have plenty of time to cook and it’s always fun to cook with the husband, Mom and my sister-in-law, Alden. (The other members of the family tend to stay out of the kitchen!)

This year for Thanksgiving dinner we continued our new tradition of cooking beef tenderloin instead of a turkey. We still cook a turkey breast so that we can have cold turkey sandwiches with canned cranberry for lunch, but for the meal itself, we eat beef tenderloin. David cooked the tenderloin and I must say that he did an amazing job. He tested his culinary skills by cooking the tenderloin on the grill for the first time. The flavors were unbelievable even though David prepared the meat simply using only olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary.

As sides for the meal, we made mashed potatoes and green beans. My mom’s trick with the green beans is to cook them on the stove, drain them, and add a little butter, salt, pepper and vinegar. The vinegar gives them a great kick but it’s not overwhelming. They are so simple and easy.

To top off the meal I purchased from Whole Foods a variety of pies and their creamy biscuits, all from the gluten free frozen section. The Whole Foods pies are perfect because everyone has strong feelings about what pie flavor they prefer and the pies are small so you don’t feel badly buying a variety. While they might seem a bit pricy, it’s so worth it to be able to enjoy dessert with everyone else! We had a sampler of apple, pumpkin and cherry pies, which lasted us for desserts beyond Thanksgiving day.

The Shore was a great escape from the hectic city and a perfect time to enjoy delicious food cooked with love!